Cornered By A New COVID-19 Crisis: Domestic Violence
STORY: Janelle Yong
17 April 2020
Being cooped up indoors during this COVID-19 circuit breaker means spending a lot more time with your family. Unfortunately, this isn't always a cause for celebration, as the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a surge in domestic abuse cases worldwide.
For instance, it has been reported that the number of domestic abuse killings in the UK has doubled since the start of COVID-19 lockdowns. Similar patterns have also been observed across Europe, with France reporting a 30% spike in domestic violence cases nationwide, while domestic violence hotlines in Spain received 18% more calls than usual during the first two weeks of lockdown.
On Wednesday, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam posted a video on Facebook urging victims of domestic violence during this period to seek help from available avenues. He also implored witnesses to acts of domestic violence to speak up on behalf of these victims instead of looking the other way.
So, what should you do if you experience or witness domestic violence?
1. Go to the police
Either call 999, or go to your nearest neighbourhood Police Post or Centre. If you are unable to speak freely on the phone, send an SMS to the police at 71999.
2. Go to a Family Service Centre for assistance
You can call one of the helplines listed at the end of the article or visit a Family Service Centre for help and advice.
3. Seek medical treatment
Visit the doctor to have your injuries treated and documented as evidence of abuse.
4. Go to a temporary shelter if you fear for your safety or the safety of your family members
If you are no longer safe at home and need to leave immediately, you can stay at a crisis shelter for the time being. Social workers at Family Care Centres and the police can help you if you wish to go to a crisis shelter. Alternatively, you can also seek shelter with friends or relatives you trust.
5. Go to the Family Justice Courts
You can apply for:
- A Protection Order, which is an order restraining an abuser from committing family violence.
- An Expedited Order, which can be filed in the case of imminent danger of family violence being committed against you or your family members.
- A Domestic Exclusion Order, which forbids the perpetrator from entering your home or parts of your home.
National CARE Hotline (24/7): 6202-6868
This helpline was set up recently by the Singapore government to help anyone facing stress or anxiety caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
MSF Child Protective Service Helpline: 1800-777-0000
This helpline is for reporting cases of child abuse.
PAVE, which stands for Promoting Alternatives to Violence, was established in 1999 as the first family violence specialist centre in Singapore.
TRANS SAFE Centre: 6449-9088
Short for Temasek Reachout And Neighbourhood Service Centre, TRANS SAFE Centre is a family violence specialist centre that provides help to victims of abuse.
AWARE Women's Helpline: 1800-777-5555
This helpline is run by women for women in need of help, providing assistance in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil.
Care Corner Project StART: 6476-1482
This family violence specialist centre caters to victims of domestic violence as well as other forms of abuse such as emotional abuse and psychological threats.
ComCare Call: 1800-222-0000
Run by the National Council of Social Service, this hotline offers social and financial assistance to those in need.
Tinkle Friend Helpline (for Child Abuse): 1800-274-4788 or www.tinklefriend.sg
Aimed at primary school-aged children in distress, Tinkle Friend also runs an online chat service.
Samaritans of Singapore (24/7): 1800-221-4444
SOS provides emotional support to those in crisis, thinking about suicide or affected by suicide.